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CD Feature/ Klangwelt: "XOIO"

img  Tobias

With the once mighty “Schwingungen” radio show off into a state of (potentially eternal) hibernation and the crew of the renowned “E-dition” mag about to release their very last issue, the signs are becoming more and more ominous for the remainders of the once vibrant Cosmic Synthesizer scene (also known als “EM”/Electronic Music). True, there are still plenty of places to meet, greet and talk about the latest album releases on the web, but the heirs of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze are slowly loosing their forums. It is under this bad moon that one has to see the bomb-like impact that Gerald Arend has had with his first two albums under the “Klangwelt” pseudonym and why “XOIO” will certainly once again be hailed as a milestone.

Without a single doubt, this record does away with the unfair, but nonetheless true stigma that it is anything but cool to admit being a fan of Space-electronics. As allmost all of the heroes of the 70s experienced the 80s as a decade of commercial difficulties and creative crisis, EM moved from being a synonym for progress to a niche inhabited by nerds, unable to program a decent drum beat and helplessly romantic by the standards of the general public. As rhythm moved center stage thanks to techno, house and abstract electronics, atmospheric ambiances and physical gear made way for sampling and software synthesis. The great strength and most remarkable feat about Gerald Arend is that he feels at home in both worlds. Multitudes of spoken word recordings, tiny noise sequences and vocal samples as well as pushing percussions and throbbing bass lines are swirling around “XOIO”, while chiming sequencer patterns float high up in the sky and surprisingly minimal, yet maximally expressive melodies pearce through fluctuating chord schemes. In the two opening pieces, which clock in at around the ten minute mark, Klangwelten pushes the envelope of the genre to new heights, the fractal impulses interlocking like wheels of a transmission and soft harmonic winds spurring on the action. Especially the title track creates intense effects by allowing the music to glide by without any pressure, only to release the tension in a furious solo. Arend never reaches for extreme measures or all too striking tools and it does his organic structures a lot of good. “No response” efficiently repeats the formula of the opening duo and the closing eight minute sbelong to the dark dream “Fade Away”, which yearns for an explosion, which doesn’t come. The remaining tracks are different and breathe a less immediate and dramatic air. Here, Klangwelt scetches short emotive scenes of great simplicity, daydreams of a sort, which are anything but pretenstious. Standing out from the pack is the surreal merry-go-round “Fun-Fair”, which at first appears to be a bit naive, before growing in volume and gripping you by the ears.

Some may feel there is just a little bit too much harmony going on here, but it’s not of the kind we see in Hollywood love stories. What comes across as the great strength of these pieces (their reduced instrumentation and use of shortly phrased motives) may seem a bit complacent in the quieter and slower moments, but then again Arend has managed to create something unique and personal here, without entirely defying his inspirations. Regardless of whether this is a masterpiece, it is a work which will serve as an inspiration to the scene and serve as a strong reminder: You’re not uncool by default by listening to EM.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Klangwelt
Homepage: Spheric Music

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